Harry Winston is a star's best friend
Every year Harry Winston adds sparkle to Oscar's leading ladies with his glamorous and rare jewels
March 13, 2003: 3:23 PM EST
By Lara Magzan, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Academy Awards are celebrating their 75th anniversary, which is a diamond anniversary, and who better to celebrate than the House of Harry Winston, also known as the "Jeweler of the Stars."

It all began in 1944, when Best Actress nominee Jennifer Jones borrowed jewelry from Harry Winston and won. Since then, the house of Harry Winston has continued its long-standing tradition of accessorizing the participants of the Academy Awards and as some claim, being their lucky charm.

This year will be no exception, according to Ronald Winston, president and CEO of Harry Winston, who has led the company since his father's death in 1978 and who continues the family tradition. "When I took over I saw the Oscars as a great opportunity and a platform to present the jewels," he said. And today for Harry Winston "the Academy Awards provide an incredible opportunity to reinforce the concept of the rarest and finest of all the jewelry in the world," says Carol Brodie Gelles, global director of communications at Harry Winston.

The pumpkin ring  
The Pumpkin diamond ring, the world's largest orange diamond ring.

Ronald Winston is personally involved in all aspects of his jewels, from the design process to the approval of each Oscar loan. The specialized process of cutting the rough diamond, polishing, designing and creating the finished piece, takes place in its workshop in New York City, located just above the flagship store in a Fifth Avenue townhouse.

Ronald Winston, along with Phillip Bloch, designed the now-famous pumpkin diamond ring for Best Actress winner Halle Berry, who wore the ring to last year's Academy Awards. It is the world's largest vivid orange diamond ring, valued at just over 3 million dollars.

Rene Zellweger, this year's Best Actress nominee for her portrayal of Roxie Hart in "Chicago" and last year's Best Actress nominee for her role in "Bridget Jones's Diary," wore cascading waterfall diamond earrings valued at almost half a million dollars to last year's ceremony.

Gwyneth Paltrow  
Gwyneth Paltrow seen here in 1999 with her custom designed 40-carat diamond necklace.

With all the glamorous jewels adding sparkle to Hollywood stars and lighting up the Kodak Theatre the security is very tight. "We have our own security personnel assigned to protect each piece, in addition to the Academy Awards security," Winston said. The morning of the event, the jewelry is delivered to the homes of the stars and those with an extensive amount of jewels are assigned a discreet security guard to protect the valuable pieces. But, sadly, the participants "have to return jewels the next day" Winston added, unless they decide to buy them.

That was the case with Gwyneth Paltrow in 1999 when she won an Oscar for Best Actress for "Shakespeare in Love." Paltrow's parents bought her the platinum 40-carat diamond Princess necklace from Harry Winston worth $160,000 that she wore to the ceremony.

Whoopi Goldberg, host of last year's Oscar ceremony, sparkled in black and white diamond necklace accented with pink sapphires featuring a rare 50-carat black diamond. In addition to the other jewels she also wore an 80-carat yellow diamond pendant necklace valued at almost $5 million. But in 1999, Goldberg, who was also the host that year, broke the record for wearing the most diamonds when she wore $41 million of Harry Winston jewels, the most worn by any person at the Oscars. Her collection included various pieces, including a 107-carat white diamond ring worth $15 million.  Top of page

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